Re: Awe

“Awesome!” and “Far Out!” are sounds that tumble out of my mouth whenever I’m amazed at what I’m experiencing. With these exclamations I’m not passing judgement on the surprising subject matter, I’m just feeling joy in the wonder of the moment. Just as the character Spock from the old television series Star Trek says, “Interesting” or “Fascinating” he too is expressing curiosity. My Awesome is just a big fat Wow regarding the mystery of life as I experience it. The singer/songwriter John Denver clearly understood how to express delight in the world around him. I feel to show enthusiasm is to embrace life and all its observable mysteries.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-OhYLVSGj0

My only social media account is Twitter. Recently I had my first experience with a post getting a lot of attention. People took issue with me using the word awesome to describe a short video that made my head metaphorically explode. It was a shipping container that housed fans and wires and a computer-looking array. Since it had no narration, I retweeted asking for an explanation of what I was seeing. Thousands of responses later the world seemed to think my awesome choice of words was either evil or masterful. I sincerely wasn’t choosing sides on the Blockchain/Bitcoin/NFT debate, only expressing a sense of wonder. Oh well.

Language is full of pitfalls. The word Awful carries a negative connotation even though it literally means, ‘full of awe’. I’ve been reading about philosophers lately and have discovered that a common connection with all the theories is that the world, and the humans who inhabit it, are pretty awesome. Each writer is filled with awe when it comes to his/her philosophy of life. I wondered if I would come across someone who had a philosophy of awesomeness. In the feature length cartoon ‘The Lego Movie’, there is an inspiring song ‘Everything is Awesome’ which captured the enthusiasm I had in mind. It’s obviously written for youngsters but I’m a kid at heart.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StTqXEQ2l-Y

If I understand Phenomenology correctly, it is our experience that defines the meaning of life. Martin Heidegger and other bright minds began a discussion of this idea of how phenomena interact with the consciousness. Detractors suggest Phenomenology might be dangerous because it lacks focus. Psh-Posh! Perhaps this minor philosophical movement can be restarted with my humble input. First, I humbly suggest a name change: Let’s try, Awelogy: The Philosophy of Wonder.

I’m working on some initial precepts: *When you greet the morning after your first breath of consciousness, be grateful. *Put aside your preconceptions when experiencing things. *Observe and allow yourself to be awestruck *Reserve judgement *Share your wonder with others *Resist sarcasm or mockery

These are nascent thoughts but I am in earnest. I plan to discuss this notion of Awelogy whenever I get the chance to slip it into conversation. Maybe one day one of my grandchildren may smile over my efforts and say in amazement, “Oh grandad!”

Re: Money

Money makes the world go around. It seems true when we see almost everything being monetized. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIAXG_QcQNU
We rate things on a monetary scale like never before: weekend movie box office receipts, visual art auction prices, team players’ salaries, a country’s GDP. It seems we trust a number over thorough critical analysis. Money speaks louder than words while we value stuff less.

When we put a price on everything it can be easy to lose a sense of its inherent value. Do we act in the world only to get payed? Are we driven only by the question, “What’s in it for me?” This monetization of the world is troubling. There are so many examples of public domains being swept aside for private interest. Water is a prime example. Corporations have found ways to monetize an essential element to all life on earth. Our lakes and rivers are being drained of this public resource so that it can be bottled (in plastic no less) and sold at a huge profit. We have been conned into buying something that falls free from the sky and, in most of Canada, runs free and safe from a tap. In this context the idea that air can be sold is possible. https://www.theguardian.com/global/2018/jan/21/fresh-air-for-sale

My grandparents used to use the phrase, ‘Almighty Dollar’ as a way to mock those who held their money too tightly. For them, money was ‘the root of all evil’ or at the very least, ‘not to be squandered’. I was taught that ‘money isn’t everything’ and to ‘spend it wisely’. Now we have wide social acceptance for those who have ‘made it big’ and moved on up ‘to that deluxe apartment in the sky’. We envy them. We blame them. We resent the 1% for their riches while we feel empty. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYcqToQzzGY

Our television culture mirrors our desire to strike it rich one day, usually through celebrity or luck but not necessarily effort. Children, when asked what they want to be when they grow up answer; a rock star, a sports star or owner of a start-up. Lest we forget Donald Trump was elected in the U.S.A. as a model of the value we currently place on financial success.

Money is seen as the end rather than the means. Worth has dollar signs rather than value. The word value is now translated as money or price rather than quality. Digital business owners are driven with a desire to find ways to monetize information. Computer application developers are searching for ways to make their ideas yield profit. The measure of a suitor’s love is still often equated by the carat size of the engagement ring. Marketers spend big bucks making us believe we must have an item. Don’t be fooled.

I’ll continue to trust that love or simple kindness can’t be bought or sold.

Re: Shop

“Shop til ya drop” is an overused phrase that makes me cringe.
I’m not a companion to take shopping, as my patience limit is under thirty minutes. The Beer Store in Ontario used to have large signs in the parking lot that encapsulated the way I have always tackled going to any store: IN and OUT.

In high school I enjoyed going to shop class where I would learn how to make things with my own hands. Going FOR a shop was not something I considered, unless it was a mad dash to get presents for my parents the day before Christmas. My first experience with the word Shop was likely read as a noun from an English child’s picture book. The accompanying colourful drawing of a quaint British store looked nothing like today’s corporate, commercial, ‘delivered right to your door’ enterprise.

I went to IKEA for the first time recently. I was happy I had a guide. Previous to this spontaneous visit my only notions of this highly successful business were through highway sightings of giant blue&yellow buildings or frantic ads like “Start the Car” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NlWCLw75XnE .

With my close friend nearby and the lighted arrows up ahead providing some reassurance, I entered the chosen monolithic structure. I relaxed a tad, knowing I wouldn’t get lost or swallowed up by thoughts of someone forcing me to buy something. Everyone, it quickly appeared to me, knew the deal. They calmly measured items, tested paint swatches, lounged in carefully configured rooms. I saw some children running around in small packs. Other kids played video games on phones while their elders pushed them in giant carts. Some young adults held hands and giggled over some of the merchandise. Other pairs were more serious as they appeared to weigh options for their home or apartment. Several women were so close to giving birth I wondered if there were medical staff on site, for just such an eventuality. To my eyes it was a herding community of hunter/gatherers, on the move for bargains for sure, but also, looking for a sense of belonging.

Several signs, large and small, supported shoppers with these dual quests: Near the Bistro, “Why we ask you to clear the table.” Near the cash out, “Sometimes you just want to pick it up.” I only saw a few employees but I expected there were hundreds busy working in what amounted to a small city. My loudly muttered comment that the restaurant line-up was too long, was overheard by a cashier who called to me reassuringly, “No it isn’t sir.”
There was order, uniformity and connectivity in this place. If you had the correct product code you could find your item, eventually, predictably and feel the satisfaction of having done it yourself. Out in the parking lot, cars, SUVs and small trucks were loaded for the trip home. All shoppers had a look of fulfillment, not exhaustion, on their faces.

I thought to myself, what would Darwin think of this place: IKEA, the idea.